Friday, May 04, 2012

Help with historiography?

The two people who taught Historiography here last time have told me that they found it very challenging due to the fact that the students had difficulty grasping abstract concepts. I went to the library today and most of what they had on historiography on the shelves was several decades old. There was one book published in the mid-1980s, but it had not been entered in the system yet so I could not check it out. So I got two books from the early 1970s that appear to deal mostly with the challenge of structuralism as borrowed from French sociology to the traditional reliance of history upon narrating events. I think that these debates might be a bit outdated for 2012. Does anybody have any suggestions on what I should cover in the class? Bear in mind hat this is a 200 level class so the only history the students will have had are Introduction to Earliest Civilizations and Selected Topics in World History both of which are pretty broad and basic introductory courses. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Withywindle said...

Marc Bloch, The Historian's Craft.

Farhad said...

R. G. Collingwood

J. Otto Pohl said...

I have to teach historical methods the second semester and I am thinking of saving the Bloch for then. I thought about Collingwood, but I don't think the students have enough background at 200 level for his work.

Withywindle said...

Do a case study of how different methods have been used to approach the same problem. E.g., for something in your wheelhouse, "Why were the serfs freed in Russia in 1861?" -- which has a host of different historiographical approaches. Something closer to you: "Why did Europeans enslave black Africans en masse, but not (in the relevant centuries) each other or Muslim North Africans?" Or: "Why did the British abolish slavery?" Etc.

LFC said...

A few old-fashioned, perhaps, suggestions:

Pieter Geyl, Debates with Historians
Old but good, and quite accessible for those with relatively little background.

J.H. Hexter (check the catalog)

Marx, The 18th Brumaire

Braudel's essay on the longue dure&ecaute;


Hayden White, Metahistory

LFC said...

E.H. Carr, What is History?

J. Otto Pohl said...

Thank you everybody for the suggestions. I have thought about Carr. I also looked briefly at Geyl. The people before me tried Braudel without success. The problem is that unfortunately while the students are smart they are not well prepared. Trying to teach historiography here the way it was taught before 1961 when the University of Ghana was still part of the University of London is thus difficult. I think I am going to assign John Tosh, _The Pursuit of History_. It is written for British underclassmen, but has a number of references to Africa since that is Tosh's specialty.